Friends in the Garden Sun Dress

I previously made a short sleeved shirt dress in this pretty Lewis & Irene printed cotton.

Black background ‘Our friends in the Garden’
by Lewis & Irene

I liked the print so much that when there was a sale at New Threads Quilt Shop I purchased some more in a different colourway.

Lewis And Irene – Our Friends In the Garden – Mini Beast Garden in Summer Grass

After laundering I had just 2.25 metres of 108 cms wide fabric. I thought that this would be sufficient to make a sun dress. Having toiled a couple of bodices that had panel seams that would break up the print, I decided to adapt my TNT bodice block that has bust and body darts for the shaping. I used the bodice from my applique pinafore dress as the base and worked on that until I had an acceptable pattern.

Concept line drawing

Having checked my button stash I found that I had some co-ordinating spot buttons to make the dress ‘button-thru’ the bodice and skirt. These buttons were bought in bulk from ebay and have proved a godsend when looking to match up with my dressmaking.

100 buttons for £4.50 – a bargain!

The shoulder width was just wide enough to cover my bra straps and to make life easier I decided to line the entire bodice rather than made ‘fiddly’ facings and bias bound armholes. I used the bodice lining to double check the fit and it seemed fine. So on with the fashion fabric.

I interfaced the neckline front and back plus the bodice fronts and also stitched my ‘Carousel’ label to the back bodice lining. When I came to stitch the bodice to the lining I found that more ‘finessing’ was required for the front armscye. I got that sorted and have updated the pattern together with a note that in future I will always needs to make a forward shoulder adjustment – a new alteration for me after 50+ years of dressmaking!

I had cut out pocket bags to make side seam pockets but found I also had sufficient to make patch pockets – oh decisions, decisions! Eventually I decided that it would best not to interrupt the print design with the patch pockets, so concealed in-seam pockets have been made. I used my TNT pocket bag pattern and the top of the bag is stitched into the waistline seam to prevent it from flapping about.

I was unsure whether to gather or pleat the skirt into the waistband and after a couple of ‘auditions’ decided on gathers. After attaching the skirt to the bodice, I then slip stitched the bodice lining over the (trimmed) waist seam, marked out buttonholes and pinned up the hem. There are 12 buttons and buttonholes, the finished skirt length is just 27 inches with a narrow machine-stitched hem.

Completed Sun Dress

I am pleased with the way that the dress has turned out, especially the fit of the bodice. However, I am not in love with the gathered skirt, especially at this shorter length as it adds unnecessary bulk and makes me look even more dumpy than I am!

I think I will make another sun dress using this bodice but will add a circular skirt – probably the skirt from the Sew Over It ‘Penny’ dress. Meantime, the weather is changeable and we have had rain for several days – so a different style of dress with more coverage is being ‘toiled’.

Project #38 completed 10th June 2020